Each year at Homecoming the Mississippi University for Women Alumni Association recognizes outstanding achievement and presents awards to selected recipients in the categories of MUW Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, MUW Distinguished Achievement Award, MUW Alumni Service Award and Outstanding Recent Graduate Award.
Four individuals recognized for their contributions in their respective career fields and service to The W. The award recipients were Madeleine Cunningham (’68 of Edmond, Okla.), Jennifer Katool (’74 of Jackson), Hayley Gilmore (’08 of Columbus) and Eric Harlan (faculty member since 1991, originally from Elizabethtown, Ky.).
The MUW Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award was presented to Cunningham, originally of Greenville, who graduated from The W with a bachelor of science in bacteriology with a chemistry minor. Cunningham continued her education at the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, earning her master’s in microbiology and immunology in 1970 and her doctorate in 1973. In her over 35 years working at the University of Oklahoma (UO) Health Science Center, she distinguished herself for contributions to the field. Her groundbreaking research has, in part, focused on PANDAS, a childhood neuropsychiatric disease that sometimes develops after streptococcal infections.
Cunningham’s research laboratory developed a test to diagnose the disease by testing for the presence of an immune response, thus demonstrating that a disease once deemed psychiatric in nature is actually an inflammatory disease.
Katool received The MUW Alumni Service Award. She is a former alumni association director and president whose commitment to The W has been rich and expansive since her graduation, beginning with service to her local Jackson-Metro chapter. She finished The W with a bachelor of science in home economics education, then returned to complete her Certificate in Culinary Arts, later earning a master of science in nutrition from the University of Southern Mississippi. MUWAA committee participation and leadership allowed Katool to serve on the Culinary Arts Advisory Board and spearhead the “Southern Grace” cookbook, the proceeds of which endowed two scholarships. She is on the MUW Foundation Board, serving as director since 2015 and investment committee chair. In 2004, she was awarded the MUW Alumnae Achievement Award. Katool has also served many community organizations. She has been employed with Sanderson Farms, Inc. for 32 years, currently serving as corporate product development manager.
The 2018 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award was presented to Gilmore. Her name may sound familiar from mentions in Vanity Fair, Wired, CBS This Morning, NPR’s All Things Considered or nearly a dozen other media outlets that featured her graphic design work that was part of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. Gilmore designed a series of posters, available as digital downloads for the march, one of which went viral online and featured Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia with the slogan, “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance.” The Resistance poster is part of the Library of Congress' archive of American protest art. A 2008 graduate with a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design,
Gilmore also earned a master of fine arts from the University of Memphis and currently works full time in the Office of Public Affairs at Mississippi State University.
Harlan received the 2018 MUW Distinguished Achievement Award. He is both faculty and friend to the university, employed in the Department of Communication, teaching broadcasting, public relations and speech for 27 years.
Probably best known as the longstanding voice, faculty adviser and general manager for WMUW 88.5 FM “The Edge” and online radio, Harlan has also lent his voice to major national commercials. He has a combined 33 years working in professional broadcast announcing, sales, management, engineering, station ownership and consulting and 28 years working in corporate and government television as producer, director and consultant. Harlan has served on a long list of committees and volunteer efforts during his MUW tenure, including serving as the technology coordinator for the communication department, faculty sponsor of the BlackList Honorary Social Club and he has assisted the Speech and Hearing Department with treating young people with speech difficulties.